Big changes are coming to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, one of the Windy City’s most vital economic drivers. While the airport recently added runways under a $10 billion modernization program, an inadequate number of gates has prevented the airport from taking full advantage of its increased capacity. A new multi-billion-dollar capital investment program announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel aims to improve the situation by adding nine new gates at O’Hare’s Terminal 5 and potentially creating dozens of new boarding points by redeveloping the airport’s centrally-located Terminal 2.
The ambitious move is designed to not only help alleviate O’Hare’s chronic delays, but also meet rising demand from airlines such as United, American, Delta, and international carriers looking to expand operations at the busy Midwestern hub. The new gates are also expected to bolster O’Hare’s ability to handle the latest generation of long-haul super jumbo jets like the double-decker Airbus A380.
According to City Hall, the proposed upgrades would be funded through the issuance of new bonds and by expanded ticket taxes. The $300 million expansion of Terminal 5 will reportedly be complete by 2019 while the new central concourse is expected to come online a few years later. The new facilities could also include a new U.S. Customs and Border Protection complex, a departure hall with increased space for TSA screening, and additional concessions and traveler amenities.
The latest scheme comes on the heels of last month’s announcement to add two new hotels to O’Hare and redevelop its existing Hilton, essentially doubling the airport’s level of a available overnight accommodations. A longer term plan to add a new terminal and a vehicular access point to the western side of the sprawling airport are reportedly still on the table as a future phase. The city is also examining adding a possible high-speed rail connection linking O’Hare and downtown.
- Mayor Emanuel, Airline Partners Announce Terminal 5 Expansion and Planning to Redevelop O’Hare International Airport [City of Chicago]
- O'Hare gate deal takes off—nine more now, likely dozens soon after [Crain’s]
- Previous O’Hare coverage [Curbed Chicago]